The 2018 Budget has been prepared on the principle of a “balanced budget” based on the overall level of resources available to the Council and the requirement to meet statutory, contractual, legal and other obligations. It incorporates the decisions made by the Council in relation to the local property tax and general municipal allocations. Under the Local Government Act, 2001, the Draft Budget is required to set out the expenditure necessary to carry out the functions of the Council and the income estimated to accrue to the Council.
The key objectives of the 2018 Budget are to:
- maintain essential and other local authority services across the county,
- continue the programme of supports to our communities,
- support the economic recovery process locally and to
- seek continued efficiencies in service provision, cost reduction and value for money.
In relation to the objective to support economic recovery locally, the Council is continuing to work with the Tipperary Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and Enterprise Agencies in actively supporting applications for resources and funding to support and sustain employment creation.
In previous budgets, the constraints on the capacity of Tipperary County Council to respond to increasing demands for enhanced and additional local services has been outlined. These demands can only be met through increasing the income base of the budget. The decision of the Council to increase the adjustment factor in the Local Property Tax (LPT) is welcome in addressing this constraint.
Aside from this, the main income sources available to the Council remain static. Members will know that the process for convergence of ARV`s on commercial rates has been agreed and that the Council has been working within the merger process to ensure the application of a more equitable and consistent basis of charging for Council services across the county. This process will continue into 2018 which will include consideration on the implementation of a single differential rents scheme. The Council has successfully sourced funding in a number of areas including CLAR, Town and Village Renewal, Tourism, REDZ, CEDRA and EU co-funding projects and will continue to pursue such funding opportunities as they arise in 2018.
In preparing the 2018 Budget, provision has been included for a number of cost increases which are determined externally:
- The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2015 (FEMPI) and the Public Services Stability Agreement 2013-2018 (the Lansdowne Road Agreement) apply adjustments by way of partial restoration of public service pay commencing in 2017 and continuing in 2018. The draft has been prepared on the basis that 80% of this additional payroll cost will be funded from national sources.
- Members will be aware of continuing cost increases in the general insurance market. While it is expected that the short-term impacts of insurance cost increases will be partially offset by an increase in members` dividend, the longer term implications for the Council are significant. The Council continues to work with the IPB to ensure a more sustainable approach to insurance costs and to adopt proactive measures to reduce the costs of claims against the Council.
- Wholesale energy cost increases are now being applied to the commercial and domestic markets with recent announcement of increased electricity prices of 4% to be applied in 2018.